SPATIAL STORYTELLING:
CONDUIT AND VESSEL

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        How might the everyday lived experiences of Black women reimagine approaches to public policy that continue to perpetuate violence as normative development, whilst on-the-ground understandings and imaginaries of safety constantly shift? How might we recognise and centre this dynamic characteristic of context as a means of refiguring meaning and nuance into the development of safe spaces? This proposal extends on the research surrounding the platform ‘public aGender’ which the author created as a digital ethnographic approach to better understanding the spatial perspectives of Black women Gender-based survivors in Cape Town. Identifying an ethical gap in fieldwork processes, the platform begs spatial practice to listen to context and mould its processes according to its pre-existing rules, pace and rituals. Employing collage as a means of visualising challenges, ideas and fantasies around safety; the platform situates itself as both conduit and vessel. As a tapestry of narratives interwoven and viewed collectively, it acts as a conduit for storytellers to share their experiences and understandings of the city. As an ongoing and open repository, it acts as a vessel holding the fluidity of everyday life. This proposal reflects on public aGender as an evolving case study for subverting single tick-box understandings of safety and violence that tend to be overlooked at public policy level, and consequently hinder the development and fruition of safe spaces or counterpublics (Fraser, 1990) that could subvert the oppressive nature of infrastructure in South Africa to become one that departs from mutual understandings of joy.




Khensani de Klerk is an architectural designer and planner from Johannesburg. She centres practicing intersectionality through research and practice. She is the founder and co-director of Matri-Archi(tecture) which is a collective based between South Africa and Switzerland that aims to empower African women as a network dedicated to African spatial education. She has been focusing on unfolding typologies of safe space through MPhil research at the University of Cambridge and hosts a podcast called KONTEXT foregrounding narrative approaches to understanding place. Khensani considers herself as a multidisciplinary spatial practitioner, finding language in spatial, written and auditory explorations.
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